Traveling With Pomegranates ****
Traveling With Pomegranates is listed as a 'travel memoir', but don't be deceived by that simplistic classification. Sure, there's a bit of souvenir shopping, and wonderful passages that describe foreign locales, but there are other much more complicated journeys occurring in this book.
Sue Monk Kidd is approaching her 50th birthday and has entered perimenopause with a bang. Her daughter Ann, is about to graduate from college and enter the 'real' world. Each is crossing the threshold into the unknown and both are confused, and at times depressed, about the changes that are occurring in their lives. Trips through Greece and France bring direction and revelations, while their time spent traveling together renews and strengthens the mother-daughter bond that Sue fears may have diminished while Ann was away at school.
Early on, it becomes apparent that both women are also on spiritual journeys. Sue is continuing the trek she chronicles in her earlier works. Ann's is just beginning.
After reading the book jacket blurb, I fully expected to have a strong connection to Sue, considering she's my peer and the 'mother' half of the writing team. I was rather surprised to find that I was much more in sync with daughter Ann!
I lost patience with Sue's attitude towards menopause, and her search for her 'Old Woman'. She spends far too much time contemplating her own death, instead of embracing her new freedoms. About half way through the book, I also lost interest in her obsession with the Persephone-Demeter myth and her quest for the 'sacred feminine' through the Black Madonnas. I suppose that my religious background, combined with a 'Snap out of it already!' attitude are responsible for my irritation with Sue, but those are the reasons that I dropped this book to 4 stars. (Okay, I was a tiny bit sympathetic, but not enough to go for the full 5.)
(FYI: If you ever need a Greek Goddess refresher course, click here and bookmark. It will direct you to a very clever website that's an invaluable and fun resource.)
Before I explain my attraction to Ann's travelogue, I should mention the 'edibles' encountered in the book. Remarkably, little is mentioned about the food in France, although there is a funny hamburger scene. There are, however, several meals mentioned during the travels through Greece. This made me happy. This made me cook!
Of course there was the obligatory Greek salad as shown in the first picture. Always a delightful first course!
Next up...Moussaka. Ann experiences the Greek national dish while on tour with her college history class. I read. I salivated. I created.
And last, but not least...dessert. Baklava would have been appropriate, but Galaktaboureko was something I had been craving.
Now back to Ann, and why I was so taken with her version of the story. I was only a year younger than Ann when I found myself in Greece for 2 1/2 months. My closest friend and her mother were going on an extended vacation to visit family and asked if I would like to go. I hesitated, but like Ann, I heard, "If you don't go, you'll regret it." I listened. I went. It changed my life in a way that was very similar to what Ann experiences. The tour guide assigned to Ann's college group tells her that this life changing experience is called 'the Greek Miracle.' I didn't know there was a name for it. I just know that it happened to me.
Ann was a history major in college, and was researching a paper on Athena while on her first tour. She was hoping to see this relief in the museum at the Acropolis in Athens, but the museum was closed. She doesn't get to see the piece until a return trip a few years later. When she does finally get to view the real thing, her interpretation is different. Her life has changed. She sees the relief through different eyes.